Sisters Nikki Bezanson, left, and Tami Cleveland pose for a photo in their new restaurant Uncle's Cafe and Deli in Lower Sackville, Metro Canada, 17 March 2015

Image credit: Jeff Harper/Metro

The ‘uncle’ factor: New cafe named after brother, popular Lower Sackville cabbie

By Haley Ryan

Two Lower Sackville sisters know just what would happen if their brother, Derek Bezanson, walked through the door of their café.

Tami Cleveland and Nikki Bezanson, co-owner's of Uncle's Café & Deli on Sackville Drive, opened the restaurant in late February and named it in memory of their 49-year-old brother Derek, who died three years ago.

"He was also very fond of our cooking," Bezanson said with a smile at Cleveland as the two took a break to sit at a table Tuesday afternoon.

Cleveland said Derek drove a cab in Sackville for over 30 years, and his nickname started when her and Bezanson's children kept calling him "uncle," and it caught on to other friends and family members.

Pictures of big yellow taxis line one wall, while the tables showcase pieces of Derek's life – like an ad for the Sackville Downs, his first job – and his old Satellite Taxi roof light sits atop a cooler.

Some time after Derek died of a heart condition, Cleveland said the sisters catered a wedding and realized their shared love of cooking could translate into something professional when everything was a hit.

"[It] was just homemade food that we raised our kids on and thought 'Let's just do this,'" Cleveland said.

Although they originally planned to run a brown-bag lunch service, Cleveland said their enthusiasm spiraled "out of control" and the idea of a café was born last spring.

Five months and lots of cleaning, ceiling fixing and painting later, the duo opened the deli where Cleveland said a former pizza place had stood vacant for years.

There has been great feedback from customers so far, Cleveland said, but it feels good to know how happy Derek and their father, who died three months after him, would be seeing the café.

On Monday, Cleveland said she was behind the counter when she saw Bezanson crying and comforted her, but couldn't figure out what had happened.

"I'm a tough girl, I don't cry," Bezanson said with a smile.

"She said 'I just imagined Derek walking through the door … and being so proud – and want something to eat of course," Cleveland said.

From Metro Canada, Tuesday, 17 March 2015